Will Hill’s release from the New York Giants this week could be a blessing in disguise.
When the reigning Super Bowl champions signed him in 2012, he had seemingly turned over a new leaf.
The former Florida safety had owned up to his mistakes in college, including a two-game suspension for marijuana and a series of inappropriate tweets from his Twitter account that he initially claimed had been hacked.
After going undrafted in 2011 and divorcing from his wife, Hill rededicated himself to football and impressed the Giants enough to earn a free agent contract the following spring.
It appeared he was finally on the right path and realizing his potential. In hindsight, New York might have been the worst place for him to go.
When professional athletes are able to play for their hometown teams, it can be a special situation for some (see Udonis Haslem). But in the case of Hill, a New Jersey native, returning to the tri-state area was a recipe for disaster.
Given his history with marijuana and the “dangerous” neighborhood he grew up in, according to his father, Hill probably started smoking before his days at UF. Going to New York brought him back near the environment and friends he was around in high school.
Hill did not have any reported suspensions or drug problems in his one season with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. But in two years with the Giants, he was suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and once for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Hill says his latest failed drug test was the result of inhaling second-hand smoke at a club, which is a plausible explanation. However, Hill also appears in a rap video on YouTube from March where he’s hanging around others smoking marijuana.
He simply should not have put himself in those predicaments, especially knowing one more strike would likely result in him being cut.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder has shown he has the ability to play in the NFL, making 77 tackles and two interceptions in 12 games last season. But Hill obviously has issues with marijuana and his decision-making, and he may never overcome them.
Getting a fresh start somewhere else might be his only chance to.